SETUP YOUR GEAR

You already have your guitar, so what's next?

Playing guitar is more pleasant when you play in tune, especially when you join someone else. A tuned instrument has more resonance and all the notes and chords bond much better with each other.

Tuning the guitar is a process that might seem to be daunting at first but it becomes simple if you do it frequently, so don't worry because here we give you all the tips on:

START HERE

tuning the guitar strings

EDUCATING

YOUR MUSICAL "YOU"

I

guitar

Give yourself a better tone.

As you may know, every instrument must be properly tuned before you start playing it. The right tuning of the guitar provides the best resonance of each and every note and chord we play. If it’s not in tune we can’t enjoy listening to it.

There are different ways of tuning the guitar: using a digital tuner or tuning by ear.

For beginners it's easier to start with a digital tuner through a mobile phone app or an actual electronic tuner.

  • Start by downloading a Guitar Tuner on your smartphone. There are hundreds available for free.

  • Play the 6th string: the string located on top, the thickest metal-coated string.

  • Verify the letter or note displayed on the tuner. You want the note to be an E6. If that is the case then go to the next step. If not, use the alphabet as reference and turn the correspondent peg until you see the letter E on the display.

  • Fine-tune the note. By now, it should display the letter E. If the note is flat (too low) you have to spin the corresponding peg counterclockwise. If it is sharp (too high, then the peg must be spun clockwise.​​

guitar tuner

Too low.

(flat)

If the needle is situated on the left side it means the E string is too low (flat). In this case we need to tighten the string.

tuning the guitar

Spot on!

The needle is centered, a check sign is displayed and the screen turns green - the tuning is spot on.

guitar out of tune

In this case the string is too high (sharp) so you need to adjust the tuning by loosening the tension of the string.

Too high.

(sharp)
  • Make sure you twist the tuning pegs slightly and keep playing the string as you do it. Digital tuners are sensitive to pitch changes, so precision is the key. The tuner will let you know when the string is in tune.

  • Repeat the same process with the remaining strings: A5, D4, G3, B2, E1.

You can also watch the video below to get follow-through guidance on how to tune your guitar.

 

II

guitar

New strings, new guitar.

How to Change Guitar Strings

Who doesn't love the wonderful sound and feeling of fresh new strings?

Although changing strings is not a frequent need for a beginner (they should last for a few weeks or months), it is also part of the routine of a guitarist. Below you can find a list of tips about restringing a classical guitar.

  • Change strings if their tone is weak, damage is visible or strings seem rusty. New strings keep your tone fresh and the tuning stable and avoid the awkward situation of breaking a string.

  • Find the right strings for you and your guitar. There are all sorts of strings. Strings can be made of steel, nylon, carbon and even from animal gut (early music instruments, for instance). Strings can also vary in tension and gauge, from light to hard and thin to thick. Check out here what strings we recommend for classical guitar.

  • Change the strings one at the time in a non-consecutive order. This tip is very important to avoid neck warping. Clipping all the strings at once might cause a sudden release of tension to your guitar's neck. Changing strings one by one will cost you more time but it will preserve the tuning of your guitar in the long term.

guitar tuning pegs

1. Remove one of the strings by turning the corresponding peg until the string becomes loose. Avoid cutting the string with tension, otherwise you might make damage to your guitar or even hurt yourself.

guitar brigde strings

2. Break it loose from the brigde carefully to remove the string completely. Sometimes strings are attached as you see in the photo, you might have to let it hanging until you remove the other strings.

cleaning the guitar

3. With the string out, this is a good oportunity to clean your fretboard and headstock with a humid (not wet) cloth.

changing guitar strings

4. Replace the removed string with a new one using the inverted order. First, attach the string to the brigde using a lace as you see in the picture (this is important to keep the tuning stable).

changing guitar strings

5. Without letting the string become loose off the brigde, secure the new string to the tuning peg inserting the string from the front part of the guitar.

replacing guitar strings

6. Repeat this process by rolling the string around the peg rod again. It is important to wrap the string around the rod from the lower side of it in all strings. 

rolling guitar strings
tuning the guitar

Pro tip:​

Tighten the string at its tip (not stretched) so that you roll more length when compared to fastening the string with tension. You will have more labour to replace the strings but you won't need to clip the excess and in case it breaks you will have extra length to put it back.

7. In some guitars it's not possible to insert the 6th string twice in the rod hole. Wrapping the string in it self while you tighten the string is also a good solution.

8. If the string is finally in place and well fastened, it's time to tune the guitar. You might need to do this a few times in the next few days until the string remains tuned and stable.

 

III

guitar

Recommended gear to make your life easier

1. Carry always an extra set of strings with you

You never know what the future holds. It is wise to carry one or two extra sets with you, should you break a string while playing or traveling. 

The best classical guitar strings in the market are made by experienced and specialized manufacturers such as: D'Addario, Savarez, Knobloch, Hannabach and Augustine. They all produce very high quality strings with different features and "taste". We recommend you to experiment as much variety as possible in order to find out what works for your guitar, your nails (in case you have) and your personal preference.

  •  Most common string type to start with: medium tension, nylon setup

Augustine

Medium

Classic Red

Augustine

Medium

Classic Gold

D'Addario

Medium

EJ27N

D'Addario

Medium

EJ45

Hannabach

Medium

500MT

Hannabach

Medium

800MT

Knobloch

Knobloch

Savarez

Savarez

Medium

Medium

Normal

Normal

400ADQ

400ADN

500CR

540CR

There are, of course, more brands and types of strings but above are the best price-quality strings listed.

2. String winder and wire cutter

Although new strings give us a "fresh" guitar play, changing strings can be a boring task. String winders and wire cutters (nail clippers also do the job) can make our lives easier when restringing a guitar. These are fairly cheap tools you can get whenever you order strings.

3. Music stand and footstool

If you are going to spend some time practicing you might want to have a music stand too. If you lay your scores or tablet (in case you read digital music) on your table, you won't be able to adjust the height, which means you will be looking down for quite long. A music stand will allow you to place your literature in front of your eyes, "forcing" you to stay upright and that is healthier for you and your hands.

A footstool is also a recommendation, however this depends on what style of music you play. Watch the video below to have an idea what posture or sitting position you can adopt.

 

IV

guitar

The practice environment is also important

How can I setup my practice room to get focused?

As well as having a good instrument to practice, the ​room and the environment around you is important.

We need to feel comfortable and inspired to make music and to fuel our motivation. Here are some tips you can use to improve your music space:

  • Find a comfortable seat. You are motivated and you're going to spend a lot of time sitting to play, therefore the chair or bench you will be using should be comfortable and properly set up. I highly recommend an adjustable bench that you can change the height between sessions. It will help avoiding a static position.

  • Choose a place/room with good lighting. Especially, natural light if it's possible. Sometimes this is not possible, so you can also use coloured LED to create your own "mood". It might be also enjoyable to play at the light of candles, in a more introspective environment. 

  • Cleanup the space around you. Studies proved that a neat and organized place provides a less stressful study place. The less you have around as distraction the better you can focus. It's just you and your guitar :)

  • Decorate your place. As mentioned before, making your practice room "yours" is also important to feel motivated. Lighting is one option but you can also decorate your room as a library, or with other guitars displayed or even with posters of your idols so you don't forget why you started this journey in the first place.

 

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